The Iberian peninsula is a big piece of land. Not like USA or Russia big, but at 591,070 square km, there’s a lot of space. And Spain as the largest constituent part, has a lot of variety. Most people will know the Mediterranean and Atlantic coast beach resorts, but there’s a lot more to see in Spain as well. The country has vast deserts in the interior, lush grasslands and forests as well as half of one of the most impressive mountain ranges in the world , containing a lost mountain along the border with France, which is actually called, “The Lost Mountain” (or Monte Perdido if you’re Spanish.)
That’s not to mention a whole lot of history too. Once the most powerful and richest nation on the planet, Spain has been settled since pre-historic times by the ancestors of modern humans and has played a major part in most of the seminal events of human history ever since.
With more than 600 years of Roman rule, 700 years of Muslim occupation and as the heart of a once mighty empire, many civilizations have left their marks on Spain, which survive to this day, in arts, culture, architecture and the soul of the country itself.
If you want to see the best Spain has to offer and snatch a glimpse into it’s wondrous past, present and future, here are some of the must-visit places on the map.
Granada was one of the great Moorish cities and possibly the best example of Moorish architecture and which still exists in mainland Europe today. La Alhambra, which means “The red One,” is a 14th century fortress which was built for one of the last Muslim Emirs of Spain. Conquered by the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, La Alhambra fell into disuse and disrepair until the 19th century when renovations started. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, renowned for its beauty, its gardens and its history.
Also in Granada is the Albaicin district – again, a UNESCO world heritage site, which retains the ancient street layout and contains Granada’s archaeological museum, the church of San Salvador, which is built on the site of an Arab mosque and the bath complex, dating back to the Moorish period.
When not exploring the archaeological delights of Granada, you can also tour the tapas bars, enjoy the festivals and visit the tombs of kings in the Royal Cathedral.